Hear that? It's sunshine and fresh air calling your name! So rather than head to your usual indoor yoga studio, why not roll up that customized yoga mat and bring it outdoors? With these expert tips, you could be flowing with Mother Nature in no time.
1. Break Out the SPF
Fact: If you're spending time in the sun, you need to protect your skin. So slather on the sunscreen, slip into clothes with built-in SPF protection and don those sunglasses and that SPF lip balm. If your sunglasses slip during downward dog, here's a pro tip: tilt your chin up ever so slightly — or add a strap to help keep them secure.
2. Don't Skimp On Water
While you may be used to moderate temps in a yoga studio, the heat can certainly rise when practicing outdoors. Be sure to bring a filled water bottle, and if you tend to sweat a lot, consider adding an electrolyte tablet like Nuun) to replenish what you sweat out.
3. Beware of Bugs
Truth: Shavasana isn't so serene if you're constantly being bitten by mosquitoes. So it's not a bad idea to spray yourself — and your gear! — with bug spray before you head to class. (Just do so with enough time for your mat to dry so you can avoid slips.) Be on the lookout for ant hills and wasp nets too, and bring any medication that you might need in case of an allergic reaction to a bite or sting.
4. Check the Air Quality
When you're focusing on deep breathing, the idea of inhaling pollution, haze or wildfire smoke is anything but pleasant. So right when you check the weather, take a peek at the air quality forecast too. If pollution levels are high — or it's really hot outside — opt for an early morning class or consider bringing your session indoors.
5. Stay Street Smart
If you're focused on that flow, you're probably not thinking about how your phone, keys and other belongings are out in the open. Keep worries at bay by stashing valuables in your car. If they need to stay with you, tuck 'em into a purse that's always in your sight (the top corner of your mat works well).
6. Layer Up
You never know what could be on the ground around you — broken glass, nails, sharp sticks or rocks, to name a few — so take a close look before laying down that mat. For extra protection (and cushion!), consider doubling up your mat. And while a big part of outdoor yoga is connecting with nature, no one will judge if you decide to wear shoes instead of going barefoot.
7. Recruit a Friend
While solo practice has its advantages, it can also feel intimidating to some. Instead of another ladies' brunch, plan a group date on your yoga mats. The fresh air, sun and lighthearted conversation are sure to boost your bonding.
8. Join a Class
Don't have a friend who's willing to down dog with you? No sweat: check with your local yoga studio, park or recreation center to see if they have any outdoor offerings. (Or ask your favorite yoga instructor !) Many times, these seasonal sessions are free! They might also take place in cool, unique locations that you wouldn't seek out on your own — think yoga near waterfalls, in national parks, even on top of mountains. Fun!
9. Show Up Early
If you're attending a class in a new-to-you location, plan on arriving 15-20 minutes before it begins. That way you have plenty of cushion time to park, find exactly where the class is (some parks are huge and they're not exactly easy to plug into a GPS), sign any waivers and settle into your mat. There's nothing worse than feeling frazzled for something that's supposed to help you feel zen!
10. Go With the Flow
When you practice outdoor yoga, it's important to embrace the fact that you're no longer in a controlled environment. The wind can blow, rain may sprinkle and lady bugs may make a visit during your sun salutations. If you find yourself getting annoyed or frustrated with nature, do your best to return to the deep breathing that's encouraged throughout any yoga practice. It'll help you stay centered and in the moment, and hopefully will serve as a reminder of how rad movement in the outdoors can be.